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Job 15:56, 910, 20; 16:1921; 19:56, 2527; 21:79comment (0)

June 15, 2006

By Doug Wilson

Related Scripture: Job 15:56, 910, 20; 16:1921; 19:56, 2527; 21:79

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Admit that Life Seems Unfair
Job 15:5–6, 9–10, 20; 16:19–21; 19:5–6, 25–27; 21:7–9

If we look at life through our circumstances, we may conclude life is unfair. Good people suffer and wicked people flaunt their sin. Those who have possessions have them in abundance, while others live in utter poverty.

People cope with this unfairness in many ways. One way is hedonism, seeking whatever pleasure can be experienced. Another is stoicism, facing everything without emotion. Withdrawal is another approach in which individuals protect themselves from pain by staying away from others. Related to that is escape, a favorite of many, which can be accomplished through fantasy, sexual immorality, escapist entertainment, alcohol or drugs. Others try to cope by becoming cynical and saying that suffering and injustice are all a person can expect.

Job was treated unfairly by his friends but he trusted God. Eliphaz accused him of deserving God’s retribution.
Bildad assumed that Job had unrepentant sin for which God punished him. Zophar commented that God must have forgiven some of his sins. That was in the first round of explanations. Things were about to get worse for Job as more accusations were directed at him, yet he demonstrates an understanding of the hope of redemption in this series of interactions with his friends.

People Misjudge You (15:5–6, 9–10, 20)

Eliphaz spoke again, this time with indignation. He asked Job if he had more wisdom than the elders and the council of God. From his perspective, Job’s words were arrogant and deceptive. Everyone knows there are consequences for sin. How could Job be so pompous as to ignore his friends’ counsel?

Eliphaz was right in pointing to the righteousness of God, just as he earlier pointed out God’s attribute of justice.
The problem with his comments to Job is that he misjudged Job’s motives and his attitude.

Many times, godly friends have words of wisdom that are God-centered and accurate and they hurt. Later those same words bring healing in our relationship to God and one another. Solomon wrote in Proverbs that the wounds of a friend are better than flattery. The problem is when those friends mistakenly assume that they know our motives.

People Ignore You (16:19–21; 19:5–6, 25–27)

Chapter 16 begins with lamentation and ends with hope. Job first lamented his friends and their words of comfort, particularly the words of Eliphaz. He was laying more misery upon Job and ignoring Job’s need for intercession.
While his friends have failed Job, he knows of an intercessor who pleads his case before God. This One is Job’s advocate. Surely Job has had some revelation of the Messiah who would come. The next passage offers evidence to this. Chapter 19 is probably the second most significant passage in this book, surpassed only by God’s soliloquies in the final chapters. Job may have felt ignored and abandoned by his friends, but he had absolute assurance he would see his Redeemer. Though not all scholars agree, Job’s statement in 19:25–27 may be one of the earliest biblical acknowledgements of the resurrection. Job said that even after the destruction of his body — presumably through death — his own eyes would see his Redeemer.

People Seem to Go Unpunished (21:7–9)
After Zophar spoke again, Job complained about how wicked people never seem to face the consequences for their evil ways. Why do the ungodly live long lives? Why do they flourish? Why do their children thrive in the absence of moral absolutes? Why is it that God does not exact punishment from them? Job was pouring out his heart. He has walked with God, sought to please God, and yet he is suffering and the wicked go unpunished. This perspective cries out, “Life is not fair.”

From a temporal perspective, Job was right but God’s perspective is eternal. We are finite but God is infinite. His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts the same as ours. God is just and His justice is sure.

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